QB Joe Namath. No other QB in Jets history else even comes close.
There have been hundreds of players who have worn the green and white (and a few who wore the blue and gold of the old Titans, the Jets’ forefather) during the past 40 seasons.
All gave some. Some gave all.
That said, the New York Jets today officially announced its All-Time Four Decades Team as selected by the fans via Internet voting and ballots at participating Hess Gas Stations. The team will be honored Saturday during halftime of the Jets-Patriots game at Co-Tenant Stadium.
Jets Insider.com has been debating over an all-time 40th anniversary club, but in respect to the Jets organization, waited until the official announcement was made before offering its take on an all-Jets squad. Unlike the fan voting, we only chose two wide receivers and two offensive tackles. They chose three at each position. We also picked a head coach. Something they did not.
After perusing the list, we agreed with many of the selections, but also shook our heads at others. Jason Fabini? No Larry Grantham??
Following is the Jets Insider.com 40th Anniversary Jets Team.
Quarterback: Joe Willie Namath. Enough said!!!
Running Backs: Curtis Martin. It has been an honor and privilege to watch one of the greatest runners in NFL history perform every Sunday. Class personified. Freeman McNeil. If not for injuries, he could have been a Hall of Fame back. The Jets’ all-time rushing leader. Who will ever forget his 202-yard playoff performance at Cincinnati on Jan. 9, 1983?
Fullback: Matt Snell. cornerstone of some great Jets teams, including the Super Bowl III champs. He was Emerson Boozer’s personal escort into the end zone.
Tight End: Mickey Shuler. Oh Mickey, you’re so fine. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, he was also an incredible athlete, finishing second to Willie Gault at the 1989 Superstars competition. Should have finished his career with the Jets. Pete Lammons and Richard Caster deserve strong consideration.
Wide Receivers: Don Maynard. Poetry in motion. The Hall of Famer was our Raymond Berry, Jerry Rice, and Randy Moss all rolled into one. Wesley Walker. Number 85 gets the nod over Al Toon by a slim margin. Walker’s track star speed and incredible club-record four-touchdown performance in the famous 51-45 shootout over Miami in 1986 will live forever in Jets lore. And he did it all with one eye. Amazing!
Center: Kevin Mawae. The linchpin of the offensive line since joining the Jets as a free agent in 1998. Has played in four consecutive Pro Bowls (1999-2002). Joe Fields (Pro Bowls in 1981-82) is a close second.
Guards: Randy Rasmussen. Played on the Super Bowl champs team. Had a very long and distinguished career (1967-81). Classy guy. Dave Herman. Another member of the Super Bowl III team, Herman, who went on to do radio for the Jets games, was a two-time AFL All-Star game selection.
Tackles: Marvin Powell. Was named to five Pro Bowls while playing in the late 70s and early 80s. Was the Jets first pick in the 1977 NFL Draft out of USC. Extremely intelligent player. Winston Hill. A mountain of a man, Hill, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time AFL All-Star Game pick, was a stalwart on the line for a decade. He protected Namath on some pretty poor teams and paved the way for Snell and Boozer.
Defensive Ends: Mark Gastineau. Despite his flaws, he helped change the way the defensive end position is played today. Blazing speed and a nose for the QB. Still holds the single season sack record as far as we’re concerned. Gerry Philbin. The former two-time All-AFL performer did it longer and better than John Abraham, the fans choice. A member of the American Football League Hall of Fame. Verlon Biggs was a strong choice, but he only played six years for the Jets, before finishing his career with the Redskins.
Defensive Tackles: Joe Klecko. The heart and soul of the New York Sack Exchange. Why he is not in the Hall of Fame is a disgrace! A classic overachiever, Klecko made the Pro Bowl at three different positions. Canton beckons!!! John Elliott. Although the heart said Marty Lyons, the head said Elliott. Was a force in the old AFL days, garnering two AFL All-Star Game appearances, while being tabbed a Pro Bowl selection in 1970 after the merger
Linebackers: Larry Grantham. How this guy didn’t make the fans list is a travesty. What a joke. He made ours!!! Grantham is only the best linebacker in team history. Not only did he make five Pro Bowls, he ranks third in club history with 24 interceptions. He played for both the Titans and Jets from 1960 to 1972. Kyle Clifton. The ultimate team player. This guy made his noise on the football field, playing in a club record 204 consecutive games. Was also an exceptional special teams player, perhaps the best in Jets history. His selflessness spawned the Kyle Clifton “Good Guy” Award, given annually to the Jets player who displays professionalism and courtesy to teammates, staff and coaches. Lance Mehl.Greg Buttle might have been more popular, but Mehl, who was named to the 1985 Pro Bowl, was the better player. He single-handedly changed the outcome of the 1983 playoff game in Los Angeles, picking off Raiders QB Jim Plunkett twice in the final five minutes to preserve a 17-14 victory that sent the Jets to the AFC title game in Miami. Mo Lewis deserves a nod for his contributions since 1991, which include two Pro Bowls.
Cornerbacks: Aaron Glenn. Although he now plays for the Houston Texans, Glenn was the best corner in Jets history (Pro Bowl selections in 2000-01). No contest. He is a tremendous cover man and despite his lack of height, hauled in 24 interceptions in green and white. Picked off Dan Marino for a 100-yard score on Sept. 15, 1996. Bobby Jackson. One of our personal favorites, BoJack, who played for Gang Green from 1978-85, three times either led or shared the team lead in interceptions for a season. Was a sensational cover man, so good, in fact that Wesley Walker said practicing against Jackson made him a better receiver. That’s good enough for us.
Safeties: Bill Baird. A tremendous ball hawk, Baird still holds the club career record for interceptions with 34. He also owns a Super Bowl ring. Erik McMillan. Somehow the fans forgot about this two-time Pro Bowler who had a knack for big plays. Led the team in interceptions three straight seasons (1988-90). Burgess Owens cannot be overlooked.
Kicker: Pat Leahy. Mr. Automatic. He remains the Jets’ all-time leading scorer with 1,470 points.
Punter: Curley Johnson.Forget Chuck Ramsey. Johnson, who toiled for the Jets from 1961-68, averaged more than 42 yards a punt for his career, including a whopping 45.3 in 1965. He could boom it with the best of them.
Special Teams: Bruce Harper. Number 42 was electric whether on special teams or playing on offense. His memory, and jersey, lives on with Fireman Ed.
Head Coach: Weeb Ewbank. The Jets didn’t bother to include a head coach in the balloting. That is quite an oversight. We could never, ever omit the man who led Gang Green to The Promised Land – our one and only Lombardi Trophy!